by Carol Williams
When one is first beginning to garden or gardening in a place one does not yet know, soil can seem dumb and unhelpful, just dirt. It is gray and empty, or yellow, clammy, and stony, or perhaps it is black and full of worms. Little pebbles might be interspersed all through it, or big ones, or maybe there is a rock ledge a spades-depth away. The plants thrive or languish in mysterious ways.
As one begins to work in it, a sense of the soil sharpens. One gets to know it's grit or muddiness, it's smell and warmth or chill, how it holds or drains water, what creatures inhabit it. One might notice how these qualities connect with each other, how they show themselves in the ways the plants grow. Most of all one discovers that the soil does not stay the same, but, like anything alive, it is always changing and telling its own story.
— Carol Williams, American gardener and author, Bringing a Garden to Life, Preparing the Ground